Thursday, February 24, 2005

Almeria birding

Whilst the Bogbumper was running around southern France with Graham 'The Cat' Catley and Kev 'Pinky' du Rose, I was enjoying the sun and wind of southern Spain.

99 species in three and a half days included three lifers as well as catching up with a few less-than-familiar species.

Black-bellied Sandgrouse

The star of the show. Sightings of the 'gravel-chicken' included a flock of 21 birds wheeling about and on distantly on the ground. This male was one of three (two males and female) I managed to get close enough to for a record shot of these very wary birds.

Cabo de Gata Natural Park

A wonderful bird-filled landscape.

Coastral strip of Cabo de Gata Natural Park

Thekla Lark

I struggled to find many Crested Larks away from a few urban areas. Theklas tho were everywhere, usually in small parties of between 4-12 birds.


The famous 'plastic'- home to growing tomatos, strawberries, etc

The main plastic area is around Almeria itself. Go north in to the Natural Park around Agua Armaga and its just wonderfull bumpy country with hardly a plastic sheet in sight and stuffed with birds! Bonelli's Eagle, Lesser Kestrel, Blue Rock Thrush, Black Wheatear, Southern Grey Shrike, Sardinian and Dartford Warblers, etc, etc . . .

Las Salinas near Roquetas de Mar

This area lies south of Almeria and can be viewed from along the north road or the southern (seaward) track (along which a very scared Spotted Crake was seen running!). This area is home to . . .

White-headed Duck - all the males were kipping along the far side!

Very nice to see so many WHDs (even if most were at the far side and asleep!). The main 'lake' area also held many Black-necked Grebe and Common Coot - but no Crested that I could find. Shucks!

Las Salinas with plastic and mountains in background.

These pools were stacked with duck including Red-crested Pochard, Shoveler, Wigeon, and Pintail. A couple of Glossy Ibis put in a flight show as well as loads of Flamingos and Little Egrets.

Audouin's Gulls

Just part of the 138 on the one saltpan.

Lesser Black-backs outnumbered all the other gull species put together and disappointingly no Slender-billed or Med Gulls were seen. A line of Audouin's Gulls in the foreground.

Cattle Egret

Huebro - above Nijar

Ramblas around here were stuffed with sylvia warblers, Blue Rock Thrushes, Black Wheaters - but no Rock Bunts.

View of Nijar from Huebro

You can see the plastic extending in to the distance.

Cabo de Gata

Trumpeter Finch

Sometimes numbering up to 60 birds, Trumps took a bit of seeking out in the strong winds. The area around the cafe (before the lighthouse) seemed to be their favourite haunt.

This bird was sexed as a male on bill colour and his buzzy trumpet song! Fab!

A forest of century plants

A fantastic sight! Definately worth checking as anything and everything can be found perched among the 'branches' including Blue Rock Thrushes, Black Wheatears, warblers - well anything!

Southern Grey Shrike

These were everywhere including several singing males - what a song!

The ground in one area was infested with these attractve beetles

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Garden birding rules!

Since I am getting out less and less at present, my garden in particular keeps me sane! Tree Sparrows up to 38+, Reed Buntings 7+, loads of Chaffinches, Goldfinches, daily Sparrowhawk raids, etc - great stuff. Add to this the stuff around the house on the fen, like this evenings couple of Merlins, Short-eared, Barn, Tawny and Little Owls - I don't really need to go far for my fix.

Blue Tit enjoyaing a bath

Great Tit come down for a drink

Treep and Piedy Wag at the bird bath

The Treeps have now taken to fat balls! Here four Treeps and a House Sprog battle for the fat while a Toadsnatcher nervously looks from the bush behind

Last week a Moorhen took up residence in the garden!

The Moorhen takes a liking to the sombrero